Dancing Chain Gang Costume




Introduction: Dancing Chain Gang Costume

About: Artist living and working in Winnipeg Manitoba Canada.
Building and wearing this costume means you will never have to worry about dancing alone at the party.
This year, I chose to be a three person dancing chain gang, loosely based on the tv show Orange is the New Black .

Step 1: Supplies & Planning

Things you will need

Soft upholstery foam
duct tape
glue gun
8 x golf tubes
2 x sturdy cardboard tubes - mine were free from the rolls of fabric at a fabric store
4 pairs pantyhose
wide elastic
2" and 1" velcro 2.5 meters
sewing machine
2 x styrofoam heads
2 x wigs
3 x gloves
3 x lightweight outfits (with long sleeves)
3 x matching shoes / slippers
plastic chain

Step 2: Construction

So the trick to this costume is to keep it very light. Choose your materials with this in mind.
I started by creating the bodies of my dancing friends. The torsos are wedges of upholstery foam attached to pantyhose stuffed with batting for arms and legs.  The lower legs are also upholstery foam to give them more shape, whereas the upper thighs are batting for flexibility. I tied off the knees and elbow joints with knots as well.

Then I made a series of elastic attachments for the horizontal poles that will serve as the main controls for the costume movement. The elastic bands are made for the ankles, knees, hips and torso. The bands have small loops attached to the outer sides of each. I made the same kinds of elastic loops for myself, except they were able to be secured with Velcro, and the attachment for the poles are also reinforced Velcro. This is so that I can access and remove myself from the costume for transportation etc. I made a cross back short harness for my torso, as this is where the majority of the weight would be suspended by.

Step 3: Assembly

At this point, all the elastic attachments should be lined up to fit the stuffed bodies at the points that correspond to your own body. Several test-dressing trials are in order to dry fit everything. I went to town with duct tape and hot glue to secure those elastics to the bodies. I then dressed the bodies and cut out holes in the fabric where the loops were. The 3 foot long poles could then be slipped though the loops and permanently attached (again duct tape). I attached the gloved hands and pole lastly as well as the painted Styrofoam heads that were hot glued/taped to the torsos.
I was able to step into the center of the costume, between the poles, and then secure my Velcro loops at the right spots on the poles.

Step 4: Wear It

I'm adding the video file here again, because this costume is best seen in action. So fun! A really goofy and funny costume to wear out to a dance party. I am a terrible dancer obviously, but it doesn't really matter when everyone looks like they're dancing in sync. I can imagine a person who had some actual dancing skill would totally kill it!
Halloween Costume Contest

Runner Up in the
Halloween Costume Contest

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    1 year ago

    I'm super grateful that you shared your instructions I am going to print them out and get started on my costume I'll post pictures when I'm all done ☺️


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Congratulations on being a finalist in the Halloween costume contest! Can’t wait to see if you win good luck!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I haven't seen the show, but this is pretty hilarious. Before I saw your credit for OiTNB, I was thinking it was because of those prison dancing videos where all the inmates were doing MJ's "Thriller." Pretty sure that's an option too. Great job! I would like to know how on earth (i.e. see video) you get in/out of this contraption!


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Hi StoryAddict
    Thank you! As far as getting in and out, I step in between the poles from above, then secure them to myself via Velcro loops attached to harnesses on my body. Simpler than it sounds. I went out to a club that was only accessible by stairs - so easy removal of the costume was crucial!